Singing in the choir is fun. It’s also a meaningful way to contribute to worship at St. Timothy’s. Did you know it’s good for you, too?
At St. Timothy’s, members of the choir meet Thursdays at 8 pm in the South Transept for a 90-minute rehearsal and then return on Sundays to lead the 10 am Worship Service. It turns out that time may be a very wise investment, not only in the spiritual life of St. Timothy’s, but also in the physical lives of the individual choristers.
When investigators at the BBC asked the question, "Can singing in a choir make me healthier?" the conclusion was a resounding, "Yes!"
The BBC asked three individual singers what they got out of singing in a choir. Their responses were similar: "It lifts your soul and you just feel so fantastic afterwards." "It just really makes me feel energized." "It’s a bit like going to the gym; afterwards you feel buzzing."
"The choir are benefiting from the fact that singing is an aerobic activity," vocal coach Carrie Grant explained. "When we breathe in for singing, we relax these tummy muscles, the lungs fill with air and oxygen goes straight into the bloodstream, improving our circulation. But it’s not just physical changes. When we sing, chemical changes take place that make us feel good."
In her book, Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness While Singing with Others, author and chorister Stacy Horn delves into the physiological science. "Music is awash with neurochemical rewards for working up the courage to sing," she writes. "That rush, or 'singer's high,' comes in part through a surge of endorphins, which at the same time alleviate pain. When the voices of the singers surrounding me hit my ear, I'm bathed in dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure and alertness. Music lowers cortisol, a chemical that signals levels of stress."
Other evidence suggests music can play a role in sustaining a healthy immune system, improving memory, and boosting mental health.
The best news of all is these health benefits aren’t dependent upon your singing skills. You don’t have to be an exceptional singer, or even good. You just have to join in.
"Group singing is a perfect case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts," writes Health & Wellbeing columnist Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian newspaper. "For entirely non-magical reasons – such as the averaging out of flat and sharp voices – a choir can sound far better than its individual members' talents might suggest. The result is self-transcendence: the thing only works on a level bigger than oneself."
St. Timothy’s Choir is open to new members, not just in the fall but throughout the year. Drop by choir rehearsal and give it a try. There’s no commitment to continue and you just might find yourself feeling better for the effort.